Lesson in Ice Cream

It has been one busy day here at camp! Sundays are special days for many reasons. First, campers are allowed to sleep in a little extra, coming to our “Lazy Breakfast” whenever they please (as long as it pleases them to come to the lodge sometime before 10 am). Sundays are also the only days when campers are allowed to come to breakfast in their pajamas, which, as we all know, is a very special practice for children and teenagers.

After breakfast, everyone gathers together under the Service Tree, an old white pine tree at the center of camp which is home to one of our three eagles nests in camp. There, everyone snuggles in under the tree’s giant boughs, and listens to that week’s designated cabin or group talk about subjects like protecting the environment, making friendships, and the value of community service. Today we held the very first Sunday Service, titled, “If you continually give, you will continually have.” At the end of the service, the entire camp community committed to performing two to five acts of kindness every day. As if issuing approval of this goal, one of the baby eagles perched herself directly overhead and stayed on one of the branches of the Service Tree for the duration of the service.

Most Sundays, after a few songs and some announcements, campers head off to special clubs from 11:30 until lunchtime. Clubs are usually set up for fun things like hair-braiding, dog-washing, duct-tape crafts, gardening, and scrapbooking. Clubs can be an especially fun time for campers because they are allowed to go to any club they wish, mixing with campers from other cabins and even other age groups.

However, this Sunday featured something a little different. Today, we had the annual Birch Trail Turtle Trot. The Turtle Trot is one of our silliest programs, incorporating funny outfits, time outside, exercise, and—best of all–ice cream sundaes. During the Turtle Trot, campers and staff have the option of taking part in one of three routes, varying in distance and difficulty. Avid runners might choose to run the longest route, which takes them down to Tamarack Village, to the ski point and back (about 1.5 miles). The mid-level route takes the racers to the ski point, finally finishing at the lodge (.75 miles). But for the less-enthusiastic runners, the easiest and perhaps funniest route involves a backward run or crab-walk around the lodge. After the campers have crossed the finish line (constructed of a sophisticated, state-of-the-art system comprised of two staff members holding a length of toilet paper between them), they head over to get their prize—loads and loads of ice cream, chocolate, butterscotch and crushed oreo toppings. Running around the lodge will get you one scoop of ice cream, the mid length route earns two scoops, while running long route warrants a total of three scoops of ice cream.

This year, the staff scooped up more ice cream than ever before, adding crushed Oreos, butterscotch, caramel, and chocolate syrup. At the end, the older campers grabbed the squirt bottles of chocolate sauce and were spraying the topping all over the place. I was proud to see that once again, the BT campers have proven that they know how to let loose and get messy better than anyone!

It may seem silly—just kids being kids–but this is one of the most valuable lessons the campers learn during their time here: sometimes, it’s okay to really get some frosting in your hair, mud on your clothes, and chocolate syrup up your nose. We all know how much pressure kids, and especially girls, are under at home in regards to physical appearance; at camp, we like to break down those pressures, allowing and in fact encouraging the campers who relax and have fun no matter how they look. For a 14 year-old girl who spends a lot of time and attention at home worrying about her hair, make-up, and clothing, getting covered in ice cream topping can be an incredibly freeing experience. Camp is a place where our girls can truly be comfortable with who they are and not have to waste one moment worrying about what they look like.

Like a lot of activities at camp, the Turtle Trot has a great deal to offer beneath the surface. I hope you’ll all check out some of the pictures from today’s event, so that you can see for yourself just how much fun it is to–every once in a while–totally spoil your appetite and to smush a scoop of ice cream into your best friend’s face, cracking up the entire time.

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